My adventurous English SO and I only get a few weeks a year to stay in Boston together, and our priorities revolve around food, so I would like to assemble a special collection of restaurants for each occasion.
Disregarding all other factors, what are the restaurants that offer truly exceptional food? We like pretty much everything with the possible exception of French food, and we're unfazed by offal, century eggs, etc. We love spicy food, creamy pasta, and ample herbs. Location doesn't matter as long as it's accessible via the T.
The categories I'm aiming to hit, over 5 days in early January:
Considering one of Erbaluce, Giulia, or Taranta, and maybe Ribelle, but open to other suggestions. One of our 5 days together is his birthday, so I'd like to go somewhere memorable, though for various reasons wine is pretty much irrelevant here.
We've been to Mamma Maria, Terramia, and Maurizio's; I enjoyed my experience at each, but not enough to revisit for the occasion.
-pizza, with at least one delivery option
We'll probably go to Coppa (and maybe Toro), but adding something closer to the typical delivery joint would be great- somewhere that can make a great pizza with minimal toppings. I liked Ecco in Allston, though I think we'll be staying in a more central location this time.
-10AM brunch on a Saturday
I've been looking for worthwhile grits in Boston for a long time to little avail; may try having polenta for brunch instead. Good French toast and eggs Benedict also a plus. Curious about Metropolis and Sound Bites.
I'd like to find a place with remarkable chili oil aromas as well as skill with a simple stir fry. Sichuan food is my favorite, but I've yet to find a standout closer than Framingham. I've been to New Shanghai, Sichuan Gourmet (Brookline and Framingham), Zoe's, Sichuan Gourmet House, and Red Pepper, and gotten spicy dishes and Jo Jo Taipei and Mulan. Thinking one of New Shanghai or the Brookline Sichuan Gourmet because of accessibility, but not sure what to order.
-Cantonese/dim sum (northern or southern)/live seafood
I love (dry) chow foon and was hoping to find the best version of it. Have also been disappointed by steamed fish recently (had a rendition that seemed to have been pan fried first), so any recommendations for that would be helpful. I'm also looking for the dish with clams and garlic/vermicelli- is it done well at BLR? Good deals for twin lobsters, etc. would be a nice bonus.
Are there any dim sum places that do congee better than Great Taste and China Pearl? Good fried crullers and soy milk is a plus.
As we prefer the version that's hot with butter, Row 34 seems like the best option if reservations are available. Is the rest of their menu worthwhile? I like lobster roe/tomalley, so my heart isn't set on getting a lobster thing with just the meat; alternatives would be welcome.
Excited to try Cha Yen Thai based on posts on here, and will probably go to the Fenway Rod Dee if they have Boat Noodles. I really like Thai North and also Hanmaru; are there any Korean restaurants with dishes as good as or better than their gamjatang? Kaju Tofu House, perhaps, or the noodles at Buk Kyung.
I've only had a couple things at Shanghai Gate- how good are their lion's head meatballs, soups, rice cakes, and specials overall? Do people enjoy their tofu skin dishes? I'd like to have one meal in Allston/Brighton, and wasn't sure between SG, S&I, and Ariana.
Is there anything else really special that I'm missing? Thanks.